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Can you enjoy a film you don't agree with?

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by Buck Swope, Apr 7, 2005.

  1. Buck Swope

    Buck Swope
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    You know a film that tackles maybe a controversial or taboo subject matter, or simply a different point of view. For example, the recently released Downfall, a German film chronicling the few days of Hitler's life. I believe there was mass criticism in Germany with people claiming the film "humanises" Hitler. I remember thinking to myself "but is the film any good?"

    Personally I can't think of one film that has upset or angered me for example, with the view point it has taken on a particular subject. Maybe because I’m still pretty young a lot of my views aren't set in stone yet, as a result I think I can watch most films (as well as books and music) purely on an artistic level. Weather or not this is an advantage or disadvantage I haven't a clue yet.

    Does the fact that I don't know that much about the life of Che Guevara help or hinder my enjoyment of Motorcycle Diaries? And are all the people who consider Che a terrorist and refuse to watch it, missing out on a great film? Have you ever boycotted a film because of your beliefs or view points?
     
  2. spocktra

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    Good question.On becoming a father ,i will now not watch anything that has cruelty or suffering towards children,regardless of the quality of the film.For years i boycotted schindlers list on humanitarian grounds but i watched recently and very glad i did.Beautiful piece of filmmaking.
     
  3. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley
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    Interesting question and one I'm not sure I can answer properly either. I intend to see Downfall and will be interested to see how the Nazi senior Heirachy are portrayed. The Germans have produced some startling and uncompromising films about the Nazi period and have not generally held back or had an apologist view of their actions. I will watch the film with a degree of trepidation- despite being Anglicised, I am half German and my Grandfather spent 2 years fighting in Russia so realistically my own family past is not entirely free of assosciation.
    I will never boycott a film because I disagree with it. I didn't bother to see The Passion of the Christ because it doesn't interest me, not because Mel's Dad is a bigot. Similarly the Micheal Moore films are as bad a versions of spin as what he criticises but I watched them with an open mind and decided that for myself.
     
  4. Azrikam

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    Absolutely!

    Some of the most compelling and emotional films are about things that people might find disturbing or go against what they believe. As long as the film is done well, I'd like to think I could watch one that tackled just about any subject.

    Anything that gets people thinking about why they believe in something is a good thing. You might go to a film that shows a polar opposite opinion, and you could leave with your belief strengthened, or you could think that maybe you were wrong. In life there are very few arguments that don't have a compelling counter-argument. It's important to see what both sides have to say before joining one.

    It's not a sign of maturity to have your opinions set in stone; that's close-mindedness. If you are afraid to hear a dissenting opinion on something, then you can't honestly say to yourself that you've really developed an opinion about the topic in question.

    Take a film like Happiness, for example. Many people hate this film because it takes a subject like pedophilia (something that most everyone finds abhorrent), and doesn't treat it with the disdain that we see in all other films that tackle the subject. It's disturbing, and sometimes difficult to watch, but it is an amazing film, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes being challenged.
     
  5. BadAss

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    For me It must have been Trainspotting. This film just seemed to glorify drug taking, burglary, free riding the benefits system and more. Just not my cup of tea, but the film seemed well made though.
     
  6. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    There is a rather important distinction between the depiction of something, and editorialising in its favour. Many people sadly fail to understand this distinction. The classic example, I guess, is Alf Garnett. He was a character who was profoundly racist, but that doesn't mean that the programme was racist. On the contrary: Garnett was a comedy figure. We're supposed to laugh at him and not with him. And his opinions were presented as an appropriate subject for ridicule.

    A more recent example would be the "Brass Eye" special on paedophilia. This got many people up in arms - "paedophilia is not a suitable subject for comedy!", etc. But the programme wasn't making jokes about paedophilia, of course - it was satyrising the strange mass hysteria that exists in general society towards anything related to the subject, and, in particular, the frankly alarming way it is dealt with by the media. (If you've never seen that Brass Eye programme, incidentally, you should: it is not merely brilliantly funny, but also beautifully observed).

    It is unlikely, in this day and age, that anyone would ever get away with making a film that is overtly racist. There are plenty of historical examples, though. For instance, there's a scene in the Marx Brothers' film "A Day At The Races" which involves a lot of black people doing a musical number ("Who dat man? It's Gay-bree-ell!") while Harpo leads them around like a sort of mad pied-piper. That scene does make me feel distinctly uncomfortable - but not enough so that I'd want to boycot the film, or enough that I'd want to cut it.

    In some ways I'm more concerned about films like "Fahrenheit 911". This is simply a polemic - but it's a polemic masquerading as a balanced documentary.

    As for "humanising Hitler", what do they think he was, a Martian? :rolleyes: He was human! If you ask me, portraying Hitler as a purely inhuman monster is far more dangerous than portraying him as ordinary. It's very comforting to imagine that there must have been something unique about Hitler, because that would make it impossible for the same thing that happened in Germany in the 1930s ever to happen anywhere else. Actually he was quite ordinary: men like Hitler are quite common, and what happened in 30s Germany could happen anywhere unless people are careful about preventing it. And it's only if people realise this that there is any chance we will actually prevent it from happening again. The more we turn Hitler into an inhuman monster, the more we're kidding ourselves. It's precisely the fact that he was human that made him so dangerous.
     
  7. NicolasB

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    You what?! :eek:

    How anyone can claim that "Trainspotting" glorifies drug-taking really is beyond me. On the contrary, it makes it very clear that the people involved in drug-taking are thoroughly undesirable people, enslaved and humiliated by their addiction, that they are profoundly selfish, amoral, and in constant danger of meeting an untimely death.

    Let's just recall a few specific scenes:

    - Renton forced to search through his own sh*t to find his hit.
    - A young baby dying while all of the drug-taking adults were too out-of-it even to notice.
    - A protracted (albeit not particularly realistic) withdrawal sequence.
    - Renton almost dying from an overdose, and his dealer not doing anything about it other than calling a taxi.
    - Tommy dying of AIDS contracted from shared needles.

    Glorifying drugs? I'd say quite the opposite: if anything it's too heavily biased against drug-taking to be realistic.
     
  8. Garrett

    Garrett
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    I do not agree with Braveheart and though it was a bit of Brit, or to be more precise English bashing by Gibson, a lot of the facts were wrong. But I still enjoyed it.
     
  9. pjclark1

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    I don't agree with bringing the dead back to life and cannibalism
    but I still enjoyed Dawn of the dead (both versions)
     
  10. Mr.D

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    I couldn't enjoy Dawn of the Dead either version as it was so unrealistic in its depiction of the living dead and cannibalism.

    One man's meat is another' man's murder of man meat and all that.
     
  11. BadAss

    BadAss
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    Pulp Fiction along with Reservoir Dogs are two more movies where I ask myself, should I be watching this? I'm sure the torture scene at the end of Reservoir dogs had many people squirming in their seats. Watching a man being tortured then set alight to some cool hip music is shocking to say the least.
     
  12. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    Ah yes but this is Tarrantino playing with the audiences expectations and reactions. When the cop is initially being tortured you feel revulsion fear and concern for the cop . You are identifying with the cop. You feel relieved and elated when his torturer gets blown away prior to lighting up the cop....

    However less than a minute later the cop gets shot by Penn's character and you don't really care about it as you've been pushed back into identifying with the "dogs".

    Its a very interesting scene ...shows a great command of film language.
     
  13. the_pauley

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    Bought this in a sale on a whim, based mainly on the superlative reviews on the box.

    Totally AMAZING movie. That rare thing, a unique cinematic vision. Can't recall anything quite like it. Alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) disturbing and hilarious. Not much makes my jaded jaw drop, but this certainly did!

    NOTE: Slowly paced (as films for grown ups tend to be), character driven, no hit songs, no beautiful people, no car chases, fights or explosions. And often raising truly uncomfortable questions.

    An American film as far removed from today's Hollywood fodder as you can get. Rarer still, a contemporary movie designed to appeal to an adult sensibility. Bliss.

    Oh, if the likes "Van Helsing" and "Top Gun" and all things Lucas and Keanu rock your cinematic world - probably best to avoid this. :smashin:
     
  14. shodan

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    Well I have a deep hatred against religions (although thats my personal feelings so I keep them to myself, just wish they would learn to!!!) and don't believe a single word of any of them but I thought Passion Of The Christ was an amazing piece of film making that wasn't afraid to tell it's side of the story so it has a place in my collection.

    Mind you, I never thought that Rocky would lose against Mr T but he did the first time (and shamefully so) but I still have that in my collection...
     
  15. BadAss

    BadAss
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    Talking of Rocky, how about the Rocky Horror Picture Show? Not sure if I should admit to liking this film at the time, but watching the girls at the school disco doing the time warp who cared?
     
  16. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Quote from "Spaced":
     
  17. PoochJD

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    Hi,

    Seeing as I'm such a big fan of controversial cinema, I think it is possible to enjoy a film you don't agree with. However, you would be potentially crossing a dangerous line.

    If you enjoy something that is controversial, then that's fine, but it depends on what you classify as "enjoy". Do we mean enjoy as in "derives pleasure from", or do we mean "enjoy" as in "gets perverse pleasure from"?

    I know that might seem odd for me to say that, but let me try and explain.

    I own a several controversial films in their full, uncut, uncensored glory, including: "Cannibal Holocaust", "Henry - Portrait Of A Serial Killer", "I Spit On Your Grave" and "Urotsukidoji: Perfect Collection".

    Now, to many people, the fact that I can "enjoy" (as in derive pleasure from) such films, would probably make me some kind of psychotic nutter! But, I'm not. In fact, the vast majority of people who enjoy controversial films, are not psychotic nutters. They're as normal as everyone else.

    However, if you "enjoy" a film in the sense of you "derive perverse pleasure" from it, then questions would have to be asked about your mental state.

    It's possible to enjoy a movie, as long as you can freely differentiate between fiction and reality! Hence, I can enjoy ther films listed above, even though I know full well that they are fictionalised depictions of violence, and that if the same or similar incidents were to take place in real life, then I know full-well, that such acts would be truly horrendouse and disturbing.

    I don't know if any of what I say makes sense, but I think that someone who watched, say "The Birth Of A Nation" or "Romper Stomper", because they agreed with the views expressed in the film, would need a serious re-evaluation of their life, rather than the vast majority of us who watch those two films, but realise that they have been borne out of historical context, and aren't celebrating evil (i.e. that the KKK are good people, and that White Supremacy is a cool thing to do).


    Pooch
    (Slightly confused by his own logic!)
     
  18. Marc

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    i don't agree with that whole "christianity" thing, but the passion of the christ was watchable. a bit dull but watchable. i certainly didnt discount it just because it was about jesus but i can't say it made me interested in christianity or have me start believing in god or anything like that.
     
  19. Azrikam

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    Nice to see "Henry" mentioned. It's a great example of disturbing content without the titillation that usually goes along with it. A flippant film can tackle a serious topic, and nobody cares. (any number of slasher films, for example) But, when a film like Henry comes along, people have to deal with what's going on.

    I think I get most of my film enjoyment out of watching interesting characters, and that's probably why I love Portrait of a Serial Killer. If a filmmaker can present an interesting, unique, and (most importantly) believable character onscreen, then I don't ask for much more. I don't have to relate to the character, understand his motives, or even think he's justified in his actions/beliefs. It's enough just to see a slice of life that I would otherwise never get to see.
     
  20. BigBum_77

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    Hi there - yeah this is a great point you make. If it's poignant and well-done, I can watch it, even if I don't like or agree with the subject matter. I think it's important to expand the mind every now and be exposed to something you don't necesarily like.
     
  21. shodan

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    Whilst not a contraversal film (or even particulary good) I quite enjoyed the idea behind 8mm. I thought it was a clever and well made film. Just a shame it had Nicholas "Cardboard" Cage as the lead actor...
     
  22. outsider67

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    i suppose the film the cement garden is a bit controversial, i have it in my collection and lent it to a few mates who didn't like it . i thought it was a good british film
     
  23. progomez

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    I refuse to watch breakfast in tiffanys due to the depiction of the chinese male. Also birth of a nation. My reasoning is that there are enough other classic films for me to ignore these two.
     

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